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Foods That Make The Heart Stronger

Updated on September 6, 2014
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Whole Grains

One of the most effective and least difficult ways to boost your heart health is to eat more fiber. Simply replacing your bacon and egg breakfast for a bowl of cereal every morning can actually safeguard your heart against diseases.

One extensive study of more than 40,000 male medical experts tracked their diet patterns over a six-year period. Analysts found that the risk of a serious attack was 55 percent lower for the men who consumed the most fiber. A good number of these men engaged their day off with a bowl of cold breakfast cereal.

The researchers concluded that you could cut your risk of heart attack by 20 percent just by adding 10 grams of fiber a day to your diet. That's the same impact you would get by lowering your cholesterol by 10 percent.

Women reap heart-healthy benefits from a high-fiber diet, too. One study found that women who ate the most whole-grain products lowered their risk of heart disease by more that 30 percent compared with women who ate the least amount. Researchers think whole-grain foods may play a role in lowering heart disease risk by improving the way your body uses insulin.

Adding fiber doesn't have to be boring. The women in the stude ate popcorn, oatmeal, whole-grain breakfast cereal, wheat germ, brown rice, bran, dark bread, and other grains.

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Soy

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows soy products to carry a label advertising the heart benefits of soy. That should tell you how srong the evidence is - especially if you're also eating low fat.

One recent study compared a regular low-fat diet with a low-fat diet that also doubled intake of soluble fiber and replaced most animal protein with vegetable protein from soy. Compared with the regular low-fat diet, the one containing soy protein significantly lowered total cholesterol level and bad LDL cholesterol, but it didn't reduce the levels of good HDL cholesterol.

Try using soy flour or soy milk in your baking, or add a little rofu to your salad. But don't just add soy products to a typical American diet. Most Americans eat too much protein already, and if you add protein-rich soybeans to a meat-heavy diet, you're like to have kidney trouble. Your kidneys will have to work overtime to excrete all the waste that is produed when your body metabolizes protein.

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Vegetables

You know you should eat your veggies. They're low in calories, high in fiber, most contain no fat, and they're loaded with nutrients. You may not know that most vegetables also contain compounds known as lignins. A recent study found that men with high blood levels of a lignin called enterolactone had three time less heart disease than men with low levels. Good sources of enterolactone include seed oils, particularly flaxseed oil, whole grain cereals, seaweeds, and beans.

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Fish

A tasty salmon steak for dinner or tuna for lunch once a week can help protect your heart and arteries. Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, sardines, herring, and mackerel contain omega-3 fatty acids. Omerga 3' help keep your blood from becoming too sticky and forming clots, which can cause heart attack and stroke. Fish oil also lowers your bad cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and it helsp protect against irregular heartbeats.

Studies show that eating just one 3-ounce serving of fatty fish per week can cut your risk of heart attack in half. And a recent study found that taking a daily fish oil supplement reduced risk of death stroke, or another heart attack by 10 percent in people who had already had a heart attack. If you include even a moderate amount of fish in your diet, you can lower your risk of heart disease by 50 to 70 percent. So dish up some fish and do your heart some good.

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Apple Juice

The next time you order a cheese burger at a drive-through restaurant, be kind to your heart and have a glass of apple juice with it as a substitute for soda.

Apple juice is the latest heavyweight contender in the battle against heart problems. It joins herbal tea, red wine, and grape juice as an antioxidant-rich beverage.

Previous research found that red wine protect our body against heart disease. Then researchers discovered that flavonoids, chemicals found naturally in grape skins and other foods, were responsible for the heart-healthy benefits of red wine. This also explained why red wine was beneficial and white wine wasn't. The grape skins are removed during the production of white wine.

With a recent research found that purple grape extract produced the same healthy effects as red wine despite alcohol content - good thing for abstainers.

Now a new study shows that grape juice isn't the only heart protective fruit juice. Apple juice is more nutritious that previously thought.

Researchers examined 6 types of commercial, no sugar added apple juice. In addition they examined the flesh and peel of fresh apples, and also whole Red Delicious apples. Despite the fact that the apples and juice contained different amounts of flavoniods, all of them blocked bad LDL cholesterol from becoming oxidized.

An earlier Dutch study tested 800 men over the age of 65 to see what effect their intake of foods containing flavonoids had on their risk of heart disease. Men who consumed the most flavoniods in the form of apples, team, and onions had a significantly lower risk of heart disease than those who didn't consume foods high in flavonoids. A follow-up study in Finland reinforced these results.

Besides being a good source of antioxidants, apples provide the soluble fiber pecting, which seems to bind LDL cholesterol and help it move out of your body. Apples also contain healthy amounts of vitamins C and E.

For a vitalizing way to maintain your arteries clear and your heart pumping good, drink some apple or grape juice on a daily basis.

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Tea

Tea is considered the most common beverage in the world - alongside water . And a spot of green or black tea can be exactly what you want to keep your heart and arteries in good health.

Tea contains flavonoids, which works as a dynamic antioxidants that prevent cholesterol from harming artery walls. The flavonoids present in green tea, called catechins, are exceptionally effective.

A recent study found that people who drank three cups of tea daily for six weeks had increased levels of antioxidants in their blood. Research shows that tea may protect against heart disease in other ways, too.

Build strong arteries. If you want your arteries to stay healthy and without any clogs, a cup of tea can be helpful . In a recent medical study , volunteers drank about three cups of black tea regularly After four weeks, their arteries opposed the accumulation of cholesterol. One more study learned that the more tea people drink, the least likely they were to experience atherosclerosis, an accumulation of plaque in the arteries.

Lowers cholesterol. High cholesterol increases your risk of heart disease, but regular tea consumption may help keep cholesterol under control. One Japanese study that followed tea drinkers over the course of nearly five years showed that having several cups of tea a day reduced cholesterol and triglyceride levels significantly.

Helps control weight. New research suggest that green tea could also help reduce your risk of heart disease by helping to control your weight.

In one medical report, young men used two capsules of green tea supplements as well as caffeine, caffeine alone, or a placebo at each meal for six weeks. The men who consumed the green tea supplements burned extra calories in a 24-hour period unlike the other men. There is apparently no major difference between the caffeine-only group and the placebo group.

If additional research support this finding, green tea might end up being a healthy component of a balanced weight reducing plan. And compared to caffeine and ephedra, another typical ingredient in fat burning supplements, green tea doesn't increase heart rate and blood pressure levels.

Drinking tea won't make up for an unhealthy lifestyle, but unwinding with a cup of tea is a simple, rewarding way to maintain your heart healthy.

Dr. Mehmet C. Oz Healthy Heart Video

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